Denver finalizing plans to set up open consumption zones, to make popular areas more like "Bourbon Street”

Denver finalizing plans to set up open consumption zones, to make popular areas more like "Bourbon Street”

But will residents allow the city to create these zones?

VicesApril 08, 2021 By Will Brendza

If you’ve ever been to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, The Strip in Las Vegas, or Beale Street in Tennessee you’re familiar with the vibes of an open container zone. People can walk from bar to restaurant carrying their drinks with them; they can drink beer while waiting in line to get into a concert; they can watch parades roll down the street, beverage in hand, refilling when necessary at the nearest establishment.

It’s an exciting experience, particularly since it’s so uncommon in the US. And Denver may soon be adding its name to the list of US cities that allow open consumption of alcohol in certain public areas. They’re finalizing plans to establish specific “open consumption” zones around the city. And while not everyone supports the idea, a lot of Denver residents and businesses seem to be totally stoked.

“To be honest, I think it’s a great idea,” Jody Bouffard, owner of Blush and Blu, told The Denver Channel.

“I sort of see some kind of festival sort of a spot, with little pockets - especially with big blocks shut down,” Pierce McKenna, general manager of First Draft in RiNo, said.

If a customer were to buy a drink and then choose to leave, the establishment would simply put it in a plastic cup with their name on it. Then, they’re out the door and on their way to party town.

“In that designated area someone could go purchase a drink at the Italian restaurant and walk over to the area where someone could purchase a margarita from the Mexican restaurant,” Eric Escudero, the City of Denver’s spokesman, said.

Particularly after the pandemic experience, which seemed to grant open alcohol consumption a ‘soft-decriminalization,’ this plan makes sense. Denver’s bars and restaurants could use the extra bump in income. And The People of Denver could use the extra bump in fun. 2020 was not an easy year — throwing people and businesses a bone like this seems a very public-spirited thing to do.

Still, not everyone is excited about these potential party zones. Many of the residents who live in neighborhoods like Tennyson, Wash Park, RiNo and Colfax, that would likely be designated for open consumption, remain skeptical. Understandably. They don’t want to invite even more drunken debauchery into their neighborhoods, where they’re trying to raise families and make homes.

But, the City of Denver believes in this plan. They’re getting ready to finalize the rules defining and establishing these open consumption zones this week, and by the end of this summer Denver very well may have its own Bourbon Street — or, Bourbon Streets, more accurately, scattered around the city.